Ever wonder what makes some books so special? Some movies? Is it the plot? Or the characters? Or a little of both? What if the story had no plot? Critics said that of Master and Commander. But the characterizations were great. What if you have a super plot, but don’t care anything for the stereotypical, wooden characters? Alien was that for me.
Yes, it’s important to have a plot, but it’s also important to have characters the reader can relate to, and sympathize with. What about the secondaries? They’re important too. But in what way? They showcase the main characters.
One of my favorite secondary characters was in Galaxy Quest. The guy, Guy, with no last name. He was always the guy who died in the Galaxy Quest series and because of this, he wasn’t important enough to have a last name. He was the comic relief. And he was great. Oftentimes a secondary can do dumb things and get away with it because they’re not the main character. The hero and heroine can’t. The ominous villain can’t. But the secondaries can.
Here’s a snippet of a scene to show characterization:
Mark sauntered into the bank and cast a sly smile at the pretty redheaded teller at the counter. She gave him a coy smile back and he was hooked.
His brother hurried to join him, saw the way he was targeting red, and punched him in the arm. “You know the trouble the last time you had over a redhead, Mark. Give it up, brother.” Charles shoved him in the direction of a gray-haired teller and before Mark could give ‘em heck, another customer headed for the red-haired siren.
“Jeez, Charlie, what’s up with you?”
“Just trying to save your ornery hide.”
Now in this exchange, we not only see something about Mark’s obsession with redheaded women, but his brother’s relationship, who reveals more about Mark’s problems with redheads. It’s not just that he likes redheads, but they’re trouble. So by adding a secondary character, we’ve showcased more about Mark’s character and added conflict. His reaction to his brother also reveals more about character.
In Heart of the Wolf, not only do the lupus garous have their human characteristics, but they also have wolf abilities--increased sense of smell, hearing, eyesight--based on real wolves in the wild. And as wolves, they have their human instincts, although sometimes their wolf half and human half war with one another—preservation of their species being tantamount.
Whether characterizations drive a story or plot does, creating memorable characters can really help to make the story real, vivid, and entertaining.
Heart of the Wolf~~~ “The characters are well drawn and believable, which makes the contemporary plotline of this story of love and life among the lupus garou seem, well, realistic.”—4 Stars, HOT, Romantic Times, Bunny Callahan
Heart of the Wolf, Don’t Cry Wolf, Betrayal of the Wolf, Allure of the Wolf
3-D Characterization Online Workshop, http://www.terryspear.com/id14.html April 1-28!!